When did you start writing poetry?
I started writing poetry at the age of 13. My talent was first discovered by my school administration, which would ask me to write national poems on national occasions and ceremonies. My talent was later nurtured and encouraged by my uncle, painter and visual artist Bakri Bahaeddine Bitar. I was bitten by the writing bug, driven by the support of my family and school.
What happened after you first foray into writing?
Afterwards, I started devoting more time to read and write poetry. At the age of 16, I released a patriotic poem touching on martyrs, widowers and orphans and depicting the importance of martyrdom in our homeland. The poem was published in an art magazine and was greeted with acclaim. Positive reviews served as a great motivation for me and spurred me forward.
What are the images or thoughts that inspire you when writing your poems?
Extreme contradictions in human feelings and emotions ignite my need for writing, from the utmost state of distress and suffering to the utmost state of joy and happiness. There is no room for a middle ground or a gray zone in my poetry. I am not an extremist. I only seek the meanings embedded between the lines and words. From a certain word or scene, I try to derive ideas for my new poem; ideas that originate from a genuine human condition, whether melancholic or ecstatic.
After this experience, what type of poems attracts you the most?
I love to write about travel and loneliness. I am a traveler setting out on different journeys every day. As for loneliness, it has an infinite range of meanings and interpretations. It is more than just isolation. It is an urge to flee from dull encounters and acquaintances towards a wider horizon. Loneliness teaches you several things. It can be entertaining when you are alone listening to music for example. Loneliness helps you maintain your life from different aspects. This is the reason I do not have a lot of friends. My friends can be counted on the fingers of both hands. I often enter into social circles but end up pulling away without much pain or regret when I realize that such environments contradict my nature.
How many poems have you written so far?
Frankly, I cannot count them. The poems that need to be corrected and revised before presentation to the public in one or more divans are roughly a thousand.
Where, in your opinion, lies the importance of both vertical and free poetry?
I most certainly favor the former. Vertical poetry gives great delight and has a symphonic musical tone to it. But readers, most of them at least, opt for the latter. Most poetry releases make part of free poetry. Writing vertical poems entails tact and capabilities that not all free poets have.
Whose poetry do you read the most?
I read the works of Poet Suleiman Issa and the Prince of Poets, Ahmad Chawki. However, Nizar Qabbani has been my greatest influence. He is the veteran of free poetry and we are nothing but his pupils. Of ancient poets, I was inspired by Jamil Buthayna and Abi Nawwas.
Which poems would you describe as your most beautiful works?
I leave it to up to my readers to decide. All my poems stem from my heart and mind. Some poets believe that they soar when they write about love; I soar when I write about jaundice and wrath as well as love. But I certainly prefer one poem to another in each poetic theme I choose.
Is your new divan going to be out next month?
It is. The divan is entitled ‘Tawqul Jouman’ (The Collar of Pearls). It is known that ‘Al-Jouman’ is a Persian word meaning and referring to pearls. This divan is a collection of the best that I have written over the past two year on love, wooing, rebellion, the love of God, friendship and sacrifice.